Estimating Population Size and Drag Sampling Efﬁciency for the
Blacklegged Tick (Acari: Ixodidae)
Quote- "As part of a long-term study to monitor relative tick
abundance patterns throughout the year, we con-
ducted drag sampling, in which a 1-m2 panel of white
corduroy is pulled along the ground and over vege-
tation (Falco and Fish 1992) on a “permanent” grid
established in 1987. The grid, measuring 3,600 m2 (60
by 60 m), was sampled 1Ð3 times weekly from late
March through mid-December, as weather permitted.
However, as the numbers of nymphs and larvae in-
creased in the late spring and summer months, re-
spectively, and again in the fall when adults become
active, permanent grids were sampled three times per
week to ensure that the week of peak abundance
could be determined accurately.
For each sample, 500 m2 of area was dragged by randomly selecting
transects through the study grid. Ticks found clinging
to the cloth were removed with forceps, then stored
for later identiÞcation and counting. Mean weekly
densities (ticks per square meter) were calculated and
plotted to determine the seasonal distribution of each
tick stage (e.g., Fish 1993).
Once peak abundance was attained, population estimation
sampling was initiated on a second grid located 100 m distant.
Routine drag sampling continued on the permanent grid while pop-
ulation estimation sampling was conducted strictly on the second grid."
Collecting Ticks for Studies and Surveys
It's not a fun job, but someone's got to do it.
Although we have an exploding epidemic on our hands, tick and tick borne disease research hit a serious lull in Maryland once enough data was collected to support a vaccine trial in the mid 1990's.
Unfortunately, the unsuccessful proverbial "cash cow" vaccine suffered a quick death after over 1,000 vaccine adverse event reports were filed, and vaccine recipients were involved in law suits against those they blamed for problems reportedly suffered as a result of the vaccine.
Since that time volunteer patient advocates have been collecting ticks, recording data and raising funds to have ticks tested.Larval tick sampling can be conducted in late August and early September, when larval activity is at its peak in the north-east.
It is vital all clothing be treated and all precautions taken to prevent volunteers from being bitten.
Nymphal tick sampling is conducted in late June and early July (north-east), when nymphs are at their peak. Several sets of clothing should be treated and kept on hand in the event of a volunteer should go through nests of baby ticks or will be in the field for several days.
Collecting adult ticks for population studies can be initiated in mid to late November and extended into December if needed, depending on the weather. Wearing light colored clothing will help volunteers spot ticks on themselves and their partners.
White tights can be worn to help prevent ticks from attaching to legs, however, wearing white or light colors in the woods during the hunting season can pose additional risks.
Collecting for Ticks
Dragging and Flagging Methods
2010 Collection Project
Maryland Eastern Shore Counties
4-6 sites per county
2 winter blizzards (back-to-back) followed by several months of 90+ degree weather
Tick Populations Down
Plot Sizes- 82 ft. X 65.6 ft.
White cloth (courduroy)
39.37 in. X 39.37 in.
Sites for Collecting
Woods edges, open fields, deep woods, grassy areas along stream banks, deer runs.